UK Football

Drew Barker ‘deserves an opportunity’ for playing time, Stoops says

Drew Barker looks like the old Drew Barker

Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw say quarterback Drew Barker looks like he did before his back injury. Barker agrees and talks about what he's working on.
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Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw say quarterback Drew Barker looks like he did before his back injury. Barker agrees and talks about what he's working on.

While Stephen Johnson is listed as the starting quarterback, don’t be surprised to see backup Drew Barker on the field at some point.

“I would love to get Drew in the game,” Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said Monday ahead of this weekend’s season opener at Southern Mississippi. “I think he deserves an opportunity and we’ll see where it goes. That’s very difficult at that position but we have a lot of trust in Drew. We absolutely would love to get him in this game.”

Barker has come back strong from his back surgery in November and is eager to get some live snaps.

“The great thing about Drew is he has done what we’ve asked him to do and that’s really just — again, you’ve heard me talk about it and I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but just go to work and get better,” Stoops said. “Let’s not worry about who the starter is and who’s not. … Sooner or later, he’s going to get an opportunity to go in a game and play and hopefully, he’ll play at a high level.”

▪  There were quite a few interesting positions that seem up for grabs with the “OR” still on the depth chart, including redshirt freshman Boogie Watson listed as the No. 2 middle linebacker with sophomore Kash Daniel.

▪  At free safety, it’s an “OR” battle between Darius West, who missed last season with a knee injury and redshirt freshman Davonte Robinson, a former star at Henry Clay.

▪  At one of the outside receiver spots, it’s a back-and-forth battle between Kayaune Ross and Blake Bone. Freshmen Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps are battling one another for the backup spot behind Tavin Richardson at another wideout spot.

▪  There are a host of “OR” spots on the offensive line as that group tries to find the right fits to replace Cole Mosier, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a scrimmage.

Among the question marks: at left tackle, Landon Young and Kyle Meadows, a senior who started at right tackle last season. At center, it’s Bunchy Stallings and then at the No. 2 spot, Nick Haynes, a senior left guard, who is trying to put on weight this offseason or Woodford County standout Drake Jackson.

At right guard spot, Haynes and Bunchy Stallings are listed as an “OR.” Right tackle is a continuing battle between George Asafo-Adjei and Meadows.

There’s likely to be a rotation at many of those spots, Stoops said.

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader

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